At different points in the novel, Charles Kingshaw is attracted to but also repulsed by large bodies of water. He feels comfortable swimming in a stream in the middle of the wood, but he’s terrified by an ordinary swimming pool. For Hill, water seems to be a symbol for the natural world itself. Nature can be “tamed” (as suggested by the swimming pool), or it can be allowed to “run free” (as suggested by the wild, flowing stream in the woods). Charles, with his affinity for nature in its wild and unrestrained form, is naturally more attracted to wild, unpredictable bodies of water, such as the stream in the wood. His fear of the swimming pool, conversely, is like his fear of the moth collection at Warings—since both represent, for him, the subjugation and control of nature, which he associates with his own oppression by Edmund.
Water Quotes in I’m the King of the Castle
For a second, he hesitated, part of his mind starting to come awake. And then he thought of everything, of what else would happen, he thought of the things Hooper had done and what he was going to do, of the new school and the wedding of his mother. He began to splash and stumble forwards, into the middle of the stream, where the water was deepest. When it had reached up to his thighs, he lay down slowly and put his face full into it and breathed in a long, careful breath.
When he saw Kingshaw’s body, upside down in the water, Hooper thought suddenly, it was because of me, I did that, it was because of me, and a spurt of triumph went through him.